How to successfully respond to a question you really don’t want to answer

There’s nothing worse than when someone asks you a question you don’t know how to respond to. It puts you in a horrible situation, but there’s no need to panic. Before you open your mouth and say something you might regret, think about the best way to respond to the question. It could save you from making a big mistake.

Check what they’re asking

It’s easier than you might think to misinterpret what someone is asking you. If they don’t choose their words carefully, their question could come across a lot differently than intended. Of course, while that’s technically their fault, it’s your responsibility to ensure you understand what they’re asking you.

All you have to do is clarify what the question is by spinning it back on them. You may feel a little embarrassed by having to ask what they mean, but that’s far better than answering with the wrong thing.

Photo: BURST

Give yourself some time

You should never respond to a question immediately if you’re not sure the best way to answer. Making the wrong move could have some pretty significant consequences, so it’s important to be well informed before you open your mouth. Of course, you can’t just sit there in silence for several minutes while you devise something to say.

If you need to give yourself some extra time, try and rephrase the question as a way to lead into your answer. It might not give you much time, but it could make a huge difference. Just make sure you don’t ramble on with a load of rubbish because that’s not going to help your case.

Turn things around

An excellent way to get a difficult question to work in your favor is by manipulating the way you answer it. Rather than responding to what’s asked of you, try diverting things through a technique called bridging. This is where you acknowledge the question, but ultimately change it to something you’re more comfortable with.

For instance, when you’re asked something, point out that the question is a good one, but it fails to cover something you’re more informed about. From there, it’s easy to refocus the conversation on whatever you want to talk about.

Photo: BURST

There’s such a thing as “no”

It might be the worst case scenario, but don’t feel like you can’t ever respond to a question with “no.” Yes, it’s best to avoid this at all costs, but when phrased correctly, it can still make for a satisfying answer. You just need to ensure that the way you express it isn’t going to offend anyone.

If you plan on rejecting their question, do so in a polite tone. Don’t be too blunt with your answer because all that will do is make you come across as rude. Also, be sure to watch how you hold your body; don’t allow yourself to get too defensive. Look the speaker in the eye and maintain neutral body language – it’ll help you avoid any unpleasantries.

It’s hard when a question puts you in a difficult situation, but it’s easier than you might think to turn things around in your favor.